Mahar School Committee approves proposed budget

  • The Ralph C. Mahar Regional School. PAUL FRANZ

For the Recorder
Published: 4/27/2018 8:18:57 PM

ORANGE — The Mahar School Committee has approved a proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget of $13,107,858, which includes cuts to instructional staff, a reduction of late buses and more.

Scott Hemlin, co-principal of the Mahar Regional School, called Mahar a “diamond in the rough” and expressed concerns about cutting staff members at the School Committee’s public hearing on the Fiscal Year 2019 budget this week. He said cuts to staff could negatively affect the quality of education and the safety of its students.

“If we keep cutting staff and the job is still there, someone is going to have to pick it up,” he said.

Robert Stack, chairman of the Finance Committee, said the budget is going to be tight for next year. Stack attended the meeting to outline the concerns and reality of the town’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget. Based on the committee’s current projections, Orange is roughly $800,000 short for next year’s budget, he said. The total town budget is expected to be $19.8 million. Education will receive 57.2 percent of the budget.

Stack urged the School Committee to delay its vote in order to review the numbers even more, stating the education budgets are unsustainable for the town.

“We know that education is necessary … we know because of the poverty in the area, because of the lack of jobs, this is one place where kids can get that nurturing that they need,” he said. “The problem is, we also know the town’s needs.”

Dan Hayes, the school’s director of finance and operations, noted the town saw just a .23 percent increase in state aid, or $12,560, through Chapter 70 for next year. He also said increases in health care and special education costs and a decrease in enrollment were factors in creating the budget.

The committee proposed an increase of 4.34 percent from Orange, an increase of 12.74 percent from New Salem, a 6.52 percent increase from Petersham and a 15.62 percent increase from Wendell from last year for Mahar’s Fiscal Year 2019. The proposed budget is set to be reviewed by the Finance Committee before Orange’s town meeting in June.


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